COVID-induced lockdown impact

Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 3: During the time of COVID-19 induced lockdown, every educational institute had adopted the online mode of class to continue with their academic activities. The alternative method of class also proved to be very effective. But in case of engineering students, the situation is something different, as it is not possible to pursue drawing and practical classes through the online mode.

This fact came to light in a memorandum, submitted by a section of students of the Assam Engineering College (AEC) to the Controller of Examination of Assam Science and Technology University (ASTU) with the request to conduct the forthcoming semester examination through the online mode.

According to the memorandum, which was signed by around 600 students of the college, online classes were not enough for them for hands-on learning and proper conceptual understanding in subjects like Engineering Drawing and especially in case of practical subjects. As a result, it is difficult for them to appear for the upcoming examination scheduled to be held this month.

As a measure to tackle the issue, the students are proposing small-projects, open book examination and reduction of the total marks in the examination. They also stated that already some institutions like IITs and NITs have conducted the examination in online mode which has proved to be very effective.

Raising another issue, the memorandum stated that for a large section of students, belong to the lower income group, it is not possible to appear in the offline mode of examination with full syllabus, as they were not able to borrow essential books from the college library in time due to the lockdown. The signatories claimed that many students, belonging to the below poverty line level, are solely dependent on the college library, as it is not possible for them to buy books from the market.

The engineering students also expressed their apprehension about delay in getting the degree due to rescheduling of the academic calendar. They alleged that delay in receiving the degree will create problems in appearing in various competitive examinations for higher studies and placement.

Most importantly the memorandum said, “Despite best efforts put in by the dedicated, hardworking and talented teachers of our institutions, we don’t possess the same amount of confidence in our learning outcomes as we would have through physical mode of teaching. After staying away from physical classrooms for such a long period of time, now the students are not mentally prepared to appear in offline examinations all of a sudden. It would have a major negative impact on the overall results.”

Meanwhile, the Assam State Committee of the SFI too has supported the demands of the students. A press release issued by Kashyap Choudhury, president and Nirangkush Nath, general secretary of the committee stated that the ASTU has through a short notice recently informed that regular offline examinations will be conducted for the students of the engineering colleges of Assam. Echoing the demands of the students, the SFI unit has demanded that the ASTU take suitable measures so that students feel at ease while sitting for the exams. These measures can include  reduction of syllabus, objective questions, assessment through mini projects and providing grace marks etc.

On being contacted, ASTU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Dhiraj Bora said that the university will take further decision on conducting the semester examination after thorough consultations with the representatives of the student community.